Best Concert of the Past 12 Months (Touring) (2009)

Nine Inch Nails

There's no way around it—the arena is the gulag of the rock experience, that hostile, imprisoning environment one flocks to only out of direst necessity. To fill that cavernous space with an energy that can survive the echoing acoustics and concrete concourses requires a sophistication that often eludes the types of artists who frequent those expansive stages. But Nine Inch Nails' "Lights in the Sky" tour was a work of staggering elegance and beauty. For well over two hours, Trent and company dazzled the crowd with an exhaustive, career-spanning set and a visual setup that kept the capacity crowd paralyzed with awe. Whether performing in the midst of a digital rainstorm, tapping out delicate instrumentals from upright bass and xylophone, or pushing a one-octave Korg into a droning blizzard of synthesized anti-melody, Nine Inch Nails overfilled the Target Center in November and imbued every song with the sense that no venue is big enough for Trent Reznor's imagination.


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